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Oral History

History > Oral History > Jim Panos (Zacharias Panaretos)

14733: History > Oral History

submitted by Gaye Hegeman on 18.11.2007

Jim Panos (Zacharias Panaretos)

While I was living in Melbourne during the 1980s I enrolled in a Greek language course with the CAE. Our teacher was Nina Black a well known personality in the Greek community as well as in the wider community. It was through her that I learned her brother-in-law, Jim Panos was Kytherian and that he lived in Hobart. When I explained that I also had Panaretos forebears she immediately claimed me as a relative! My sister and her husband lived in Hobart too. So when I flew over to Tasmania to spend Christmas with them it seemed like a good idea to call on Jim and his family. Accompanied by my sister and mother we visited Jim and his wife on two occasions December 1987, then in January 1988. I wrote down notes while we talked.

The first member of Jim's family to migrate to Australia was his father, Andy (Anargrios) Panaretos. The exact date of his arrival is not known, but he came in the late 1800s before the turn of the century. He owned a cafe in partnership with his brother at Gunedah in New South Wales. In 1905 after more than five years of residence he was naturalized. Not long after his naturalization Andy, who by this time was over thirty years of age, decided to return to Greece. He married a girl from the Zantiotos family. They had six children Jim being the eldest. Jim was born in 1908, followed by Ralia in 1911, Panagiotis (Peter), Athena, Athamantia and the last born Stavros died in infancy. Andy lived to the age of eighty and died around 1961/62.

Jim attended the primary school at Potamos, and at the age of fourteen commenced high school in the township of Hora at the southern end of Kythera. His first year of high school was the first year of the schools' establishment. During the following six years of schooling he studied French, Latin, the Greek Classics, Higher Mathematics, History, Georgraphy and Physics. While Jim was still at school a very unhappy event occurred in his life. When he was seventeen his mother became ill. She was diagnosed with leukemia. She received a blood transfusion from one of her sons, but sadly did not survive.

At the age of twenty-six Jim attended officer's school in Athens followed by two years of service in the Greek army. he found his new responsibilities and work rewarding. After discharge from the army Jim remained in Athens where he found employment as a waiter and studied bookkeeping part time. In 1937 he left Athens for Australia and did not return to Greece until 1979, forty two years later. He was proud of the fact that some of the best houses on Kythera were built by Panaretos families with money sent from Australia. Two of Jim's sisters still live in the family home at Potamos. One is a widow and the other is unmarried.

Jim enjoyed reminiscing about his Panaretos forebears. He spoke about his grandfather, Zacharias Panaretos who was a seafarer. His grandfather carried merchandise and passengers between islands as far as the coast of Asia, to Cypress, the northern part of the Aegean Sea and the Ionian Islands. He commented that the Greeks have always been great travelers and seafarers. The Greeks who lived in Smyrna, (Izmir) Turkey excelled in the arts, trades and had many opportunities for education not available to mainland Greeks. When about one million Greeks left Turkey in the 1920s, those with relatives or connections on Kythera settled on the Island. The children born to Jim's grandfather, Zacharias Panaretos, were Vretos, Anargrios (Andy), Garyfolia and Stavroula. Stavroula married into the Fardoulys family and had nine children. All but one of these children migrated to Australia.

When he was growing up Jim remembers that there were four large families of Panaretos living in Potamos. To distinguish each family from the other, they had nicknames. Jim's family was known as "notas" meaning south, another was "justice," an English word. There was "xelynos" or wooden and the fourth family was "karepis." The "justice" Panaretos was also a seafaring family. Some of the Panaretos names he remembered from his youth were Victor Panaretos, John Panaretos and Spiro Panaretos. The family of Spiro Panaretos lived next door to Jim's family. They were second cousins, but more like brothers.

When Jim was growing up, ninety percent of the population of Kythera lived off the land. They were self sufficient and the whole family worked to provide for the home with the growing and production of wheat and wool. The animals they raised provided milk and cheese. There is a legend that long ago a Panaretos excelled at throwing the shot-put, which evolved into the saying that "he throws it like a Panaretos." The Greek dictionary meaning of "Panaretos" is "all virtuous" that is "full of virtue." Other Kytherians who live in Tasmania are members of the Cassimatis family. Jim spoke about Gregory Cassismatis who migrated to Australia long before the turn of the nineteenth century and how he began work as a fishmonger, dealing in crayfish and scallops (also known as doughboys).

Before his retirement Jim worked with the Commonwealth Bank as an interpreter. During the course of his work he noticed that the name Panaretos also occurred on other Ionian Islands, particularly Ithaca and Corfu. He married into the Black (Mavrokefalos) family who originated from the Island of Ithaca. He made his home at Hobart, in Tasmania where he raised his family and where we first met up with him in 1987.

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